Rahul Dravid, who was at the helm when India stormed to the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2018 title in New Zealand, is confident that the defending champions will have a balanced side for the 2020 edition of the event in South Africa.
India won the 2018 edition by defeating Australia by eight wickets in the final. At that time, they were under the guidance of Dravid, who was the head coach of the India A and India U19 men’s teams from 2015 until August this year.
The former India captain, who is now the director of the National Cricket Academy, feels the U19 squad that will travel for the youth World Cup this time is as good as the previous one, with plenty of depth and skill.
One of the things that we have done over the years is that we have ensured that no one plays more than one World Cup.
"We have got a good balance in the team," he told Sportstar. "We probably had more all-rounders in last year's team. The guys like Kamlesh [Nagarkoti], Shivam [Mavi] could all bat. Last year's World Cup team could bat down till No.10. But in terms of balance, the selectors have done a fine job in picking a good side.
"So, if the conditions in South Africa aid the fast bowlers, we will have a pretty good attack. We have got batting down to seven, eight, nine. We have got spinners. We had enough competition for places, so that was nice to see. Most of the guys who were selected here had to perform to earn their spots, it did not come easy. I honestly feel that some of the boys will be unlucky to miss out."
Dravid, who played 164 Tests, 344 ODIs and one T20I between 1996 and 2012 for India, added that the tag of 'defending champions' will not carry much value, as it will be a completely fresh side at the World Cup, facing new challenges and eager to play good cricket.
"It’s going to be a great learning experience for our boys and we will try and create a good environment and play some good cricket. If we win, great. Defending champion, for me, doesn’t [matter].
"All the boys are new. One of the things that we have done over the years is that we have ensured that no one plays more than one World Cup. So, everyone will be playing their first World Cup. It makes no difference," he explained.
💥 50 days to go for ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020 💥— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) November 28, 2019
Starting today, we will look at some famous names who have played in the tournament over the years.
First up: West Indies legend Brian Lara 🙌#U19CWC pic.twitter.com/I7jMdVd2DL
India's U19 structure is one of the strongest in the world, with plenty of youngsters already playing first-class cricket, international cricket and the IPL. Dravid is satisfied with the system that he helped set up to provide opportunities to talented youngsters. He sees their ability to make the step up from youth cricket as the biggest success.
"I think we are very confident with the process and preparation we’ve set up," he said. "At the start of the cycle, I tell a lot of these guys who are pushing for spots, ‘We’ll give you enough opportunities to put your hand up and select yourself.’ And honestly, hand on heart, at least 40-45 boys can say, ‘Hey, we got a chance. We got opportunities.'"
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